I think chasing a lower pack weight is like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You can cut ounces, cut ounces, cut ounces off your pack but….. when will you reach the pot of gold and actually be ‘light enough?’
Getting your backpacking gear to your goal weight will look a little different for every hiker and it very well may be a never ending journey of continuously upgrading to lighter and lighter gear over the years.
This post may contain affiliate affiliate links for your convenience, see my full disclosure for more info.
Which is fine! You don’t have to go out right now and spend thousands of dollars on all new ultralight backpacking gear.
Here are a few things you can do TODAY to start shaving some weight off your gear and ultimately lighten your load before your next backpacking trip.
4 Steps to a lighter backpacking pack
Know how much your gear weighs
Weigh every piece of gear on a kitchen scale and keep track of every ounce, whether on a sheet of paper or a spreadsheet.
The Backpack Weight Calculator is an amazing tool for this because it not only tracks your total baseweight but also compares the weight of each gear item to the ideal weight it should be to show you obvious areas where you can upgrade gear or shave off some weight.
Every ounce counts, starting shaving off ounces
Check over each piece of gear carefully to see if you can shave any weight off it by cutting off unnecessary buckles or straps, pockets or flaps of fabric or extra handles.
I used to foo-foo this strategy, like how much of a difference could this really make…. until I did it and cut off about 3/4 lb off of one of my packs!
It’s also worth looking over your gear to see if it’s actually made to have a lighter option – like detaching the ground cloth that came with your tent that you probably don’t need. Or, for example, some double-walled tents can be used with only the ground cloth and the rain fly (without the inner mesh) if you wanted to.
Replace or upgrade your heaviest gear items
Look into your heaviest piece(s) of gear and start exploring lighter options to replace them – can you find a lighter pack, lighter tent, etc? You don’t need to buy them all at once, especially if you’re on a budget, just start with one item and then replace another item next year, etc.
Weigh your food bag and choose lighter, dry food items
The kitchen scale isn’t only for gear – use it to measure your food and snacks also and see if there isn’t a way to get your food bag weight down.
I would try not to go over 1.5 lbs of food per person per day while backpacking. So it’s easy to double check yourself while you’re packing, put all the food you want to bring in your food bag and weigh it, if you’re over 1.5 lbs of food per day for yourself, lay everything out and really reassess if you need all of that food or if you over packed a little bit (I’m totally guilty of that!)
I’ve also found that since going keto, my food is WAY lighter than my pre-keto days. Which makes sense, I’ve been dehydrating more of my own backpacking meals which usually weigh next to nothing, plus something to keep in mind – carbohydrates and protein only pack 4 calories per gram vs fat which packs 9 calories per gram – so you’re going to have to pack an awful lot of carby snacks to get the same amount of calories you could get from packing high fat, calorie dense keto snacks and healthy oils to add to your meals.
Let us know the one thing that made the biggest difference in your pack weight in the comments below!
For more backpacking gear tips and recommendations, check out:
- DIY Backpacking Pot Cozy
- Best Sleeping Pads For Backpackers
- Do you really need a tent ground cloth?
- Backpacking Gear Checklist: What To Pack